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ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
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Chapter XCII.—Unless the scriptures be understood through God’s great grace, God will not appear to have taught always the same righteousness.

“Unless, therefore, a man by God’s great grace receives the power to understand what has been said and done by the prophets, the appearance of being able to repeat the words or the deeds will not profit him, if he cannot explain the argument of them. And will they not assuredly appear contemptible to many, since they are related by those who understood them not? For if one should wish to ask you why, since Enoch, Noah with his sons, and all others in similar circumstances, who neither were circumcised nor kept the Sabbath, pleased God, God demanded by other leaders, and by the giving of the law after the lapse of so many generations, that those who lived between the times of Abraham and of Moses be justified by circumcision, and that those who lived after Moses be justified by circumcision and the other ordinances—to wit, the Sabbath, and sacrifices, and libations,23072307    Or, “ashes,” σποδῶν for σπονδῶν. and offerings; [God will be slandered] unless you show, as I have already said, that God who foreknew was aware that your nation would deserve expulsion from Jerusalem, and that none would be permitted to enter into it. (For23082308    We have adopted the parenthesis inserted by Maranus. Langus would insert before it, τί ἕξετε ἀποκρίνασθαι; “What will you have to answer?” you are not distinguished in any other way than by the fleshly circumcision, as I remarked previously. For Abraham was declared by God to be righteous, not on account of circumcision, but on account of faith. For before he was circumcised the following statement was made regarding him: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted unto him for righteousness.’23092309    Gen. xv. 6. And we, therefore, in the uncircumcision of our flesh, believing God through Christ, and having that circumcision which is of advantage to us who have acquired it —namely, that of the heart—we hope to appear righteous before and well-pleasing to God: since already we have received His testimony through the words of the prophets.) [And, further, God will be slandered unless you show] that you were commanded to observe the Sabbath, and to present offerings, and that the Lord submitted to have a place called by the name of God, in order that, as has been said, you might not become impious and godless by worshipping idols and forgetting God, as indeed you do always appear to have been. (Now, that God enjoined the ordinances of Sabbaths and offerings for these reasons, I have proved in what I previously remarked; but for the sake of those who came to-day, I wish to repeat nearly the whole.) For if this is not the case, God will be slandered,23102310    We have supplied this phrase twice above. as having no foreknowledge, and as not teaching all men to know and to do the same acts of righteousness (for many generations of men appear to have existed before Moses); and the Scripture is not true which affirms that ‘God is true and righteous, and all His ways are judgments, and there is no unrighteousness in him.’ But since the Scripture is true, God is always willing that such even as you be neither foolish nor lovers of yourselves, in order that you may obtain the salvation of Christ,23112311    Literally, salvation along with Christ, that is, salvation by the aid of Christ. who pleased God, and received testimony from Him, as I have already said, by alleging proof from the holy words of prophecy.


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